Thursday, July 28, 2011

Obsession - Pinterest and My General Incompetence


Are you on Pinterest?


I am in love. I am obsessed. I am consumed. I am depressed.


This website is my new bulletin board for inspiration in design, style, cooking...anything you can imagine. Not only can I pin my own favorite things onto it, I can follow others who also have great taste!


It's wonderful. I love spending minutes upon hours just browsing the great photos and getting ideas for dinner, for dressing Maya, for that fabulous updo that I could recreate on myself when the queen invites me to a royal ball.


Unfortunately, it also reminds me of what a loser I am. 


If I had more money, I would buy that!


If I had more time, I would cook that!


If I had any talent, I could totally sew that!


It's brutal on the self-esteem. But I cannot look away. It's like day-dreaming along with a million photos. People also post inspirational posters, so that helps. 




Perfection. 


But I really do like this one. I'm thinking of nailing it to Maya's headboard.




But she'd probably ignore it. I'd better just tattoo it on her arm instead. 


See what I mean? You go in admiring adorable little mushroom pincushions....you come out inking your daughter. Inspiration is a slippery slope, my friends.


But, if you join, people let me know so I can follow you!


Also, a small request, if you enjoy reading my random musings, please "follow" me. I only have 9 followers and it's murder on my OCD. Every day I think, "Will today be the day I enter the double-digits?" I've thought that for about 200 days now. I can't sleep at night! 


Help me sleep, people!!!


And thank you for reading!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cooking - Turkey Chili Con Camping


Camping means to me...

gorgeous scenery,

wind blowing through the trees,

Lincoln bathing in dirt,

hikes around hidden lakes,

Maya climbing boulders,

mosquitoes eating me alive,

children building fairy villages out of sticks and pinecones,

my hair turning to straw,

endless loads of laundry,

laughs around the campfire,

cozy moments with my kiddos in our sleeping bags,

and, probably most importantly,

roasted banana splits and THIS turkey chili. 

I guess I cannot claim it to be my turkey chili because I came upon the recipe on Facebook when my friend Brillana announced its deliciousness. 

And then I realized that it belongs Guy Fieri who is often referred to as one of cooking's axis of evil (alongside Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee). 

But I do not consider myself a culinary snob. (I would proudly eat cheese from a can.) So I gave the recipe a whirl.

Best. Turkey. Chili. Ever.

Thanks be to the baby Jesus.

I really think my love is what puts it over the top. But you can try it and see how it turns out. It may come out just nearly as a good. And when you do make it  -- as you should if you desire a long, happy life --  think of these adorable faces. It may help you add my love. And then I will charge you a few bucks because there should be some royalties on my love. My love is very valuable and a delicacy in Malaysia this week. 





Ryder's Turkey Chili

Recipe from Guy Fieri for Food Network Magazine

Ingredients

  • 10 to 12 dried pasilla chile peppers
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 jalapeno peppers, minced (remove seeds for less heat)
  • 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small red onions, diced
  • 3 pounds coarsely ground turkey (thigh and breast meat)
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups canned pinto beans with liquid
  • 3 cups canned kidney beans with liquid
  • 2 cups canned black beans with liquid
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish
  • Saltine crackers, for serving

Directions

Rehydrate the pasilla peppers in hot water for 20 to 30 minutes, or until softened; drain. Remove the stems and seeds; dice the peppers.
Warm the oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the pasillas, bell peppers, jalapenos, garlic and onions and cook until caramelized, about 8 minutes. Add the turkey and gently stir, trying not to break up the meat too much; cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato paste and sauce, stir for 4 minutes, then add the chicken broth. Add the granulated onion and garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, 2 tablespoons salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Stir in the beans and their liquid, lower the heat and cook, uncovered, for at least 1 hour. Garnish with shredded cheddar and serve with saltines.
Serves a buttload of people. At least 10. 








Thursday, July 14, 2011

Confession - I'm Sorry

This week, our household has seen some disconcerting events...


First of all, I dusted. 


Second, I cleaned a toilet. 


Third, a recently-deceased rat/mouse, whose enormity is rarely witnessed outside a New York City subway, was discovered by my oddly-exhilarated daughter in the playhouse. 


Even though the trash truck took Bill O'Reilly away this morning, I am still afraid to let the kids play in that house. Larry did not perform an autopsy and the Hazmat team did not sterilize the area.


I am periodically checking them for signs of the bubonic plague. Or rabies. Or Republicanism. 


But, to be honest, I'm not sure I would even know if Lincoln came down with rabies (or Republicanism for that matter). He regularly foams at the mouth and his violent tendencies have reached an all-time high this week.


My sweet little baby boy is gone. And he has been replaced by El Diablo. He is in the "hitting and screaming stage." Let's just hope this "stage" ends by college or I could have a real Dodgers/Raiders fan on my hands. 


You know, I've decided just to offer up my apologies right now for any past, present or future infractions. It will save all of us some time that way.


I'm sorry to you, indignant mother of the timid Asian child at Gymboree. I have not yet read Confession of a Tiger Mom and neither has Lincoln. 


I'm also sorry to you, random lady with the sweet little girls at nature camp. But you don't have a boy. You don't know. You will never know.


I'm sorry to you, elderly couple at the local BBQ joint. But, if he wasn't screaming, he'd be throwing food and I don't want to clean that shit up. 


I am very sorry to you, Maya. But if you would just leave his goddamn trains alone, you wouldn't be bruised by an engine to the side of the head. Who's the bigger dummy?


I'm just plain sorry to you, lady who runs the childcare at the gym. But at least you get a paycheck for dealing with it. 


I am sorry to all of you, children of Chic-Fil-A patrons. But isn't it the Christian way to forgive?


I'm so sorry to you, Lincoln's best friend Abby. But I'm not entirely sure you didn't originally teach him how it's done. 


Finally, I am sorry to you, rich mom of a boy Lincoln's age who has a really nice house and a vacation home on the beach AND one in the mountains. He has never done this before. It is completely unlike him. He must be really tired and hungry. Should I come over after his nap?


I think those apologies will buy me another week of social acceptance. After that, we may be banned to the wilderness where Linc can butt his head against a tree all day long. 


If that happens, or if we come down with the plague, it was nice knowing you all. Feel free to use my clean toilet. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Culture - Tina Fey is My Long Lost Sister



I have always believed this to be so.


And now I have read her book.


Ladies and gentleman, I offer up these indisputable facts...


1. We both have flat feet. 


2. We both spent much of our college years in love with gay guys.


3. We both love theater (hence No. 2).


4. We both remained virgins into our 20s. (I know. Not a shock given No. 2 AND 3.) 


5. We both love writing funny things. (Though only one of us is being paid a butt-load of cash for it. One guess. It is not the one who's husband still tells her her next car will be one that flies. Because that's how long it will be before we can afford to buy a new one.)


5. We both have been chubby. (And one of us still is.)


6. We both love those evil cheddar biscuits from The Red Lobster. As she says, "If you don't you are a Socialist and a liar."


7. We both have daughters. And we would love for them to be into Barbies and horses until they are 21 so that they may join us in our No. 4 club.


I now feel complete because I have always wanted a Greek sister. Especially one who has a pad in Manhattan where I can crash occasionally. Tina, can you hear me?


I think, if she weren't my sister, she may have made the list of women I would change teams for. (She's right up there with Catherine Zeta Jones and Shirley Manson from Garbage. A select, though random, group.)


And, if I didn't have to return her book to my friend Arlene, I might just sleep with it under my pillow every night so that I would lay my pretty little head down knowing that I wasn't alone in my journey as a mother and a geek. 


Now I'm feeling a little bad for both Tina and myself that I didn't actually buy the book. Nevermind. I'm sure she's got a decent set of wheels.


Now I shall turn my attentions to my other comedic sister, Kathy Griffin and see if I have a bit o' the Irish in me blood as well. 


And this now concludes the sum total of my summer reading list. Unless you count reading Gossie, Clifford's Christmas and Ten Little Ladybugs about 100 times a day. 


What books should I add to my nightstand?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Confession - My Little Fighter





I don't remember much of what happened exactly two years ago today. But here's what I do remember...


On July 6th my parents left for a weekend trip to Las Vegas. The last words my dad said to me were, "Don't go having that baby and ruining our trip." He was kidding, of course.


My water broke about 10 hours later. 


I gently woke up Larry and, in a quiet daze, we began packing for the hospital. Our scheduled c-section wasn't for another two weeks so we were not at all prepared for an early baby.


We woke up Maya, drove down to Hoag Hospital and met Larry's mom in the waiting room. 


After checking in, I got my magical epidural (only after we called my parents in Vegas and told them they better hightail it on home). 


But it all gets very blurry after that.


Lincoln was born at 6:52 a.m. 


There were tears of joy.


Then he wouldn't eat. And he grunted a lot but didn't cry. 


The nurse began to looked concerned and there were hushed conversations.


Eventually they took him to the NICU but, because of the drugs I'd been given, I was too out of it to know what was going on. 


A doctor came in looking very grim. He talked about my baby being very sick. I don't know if it was the drugs but I began to give up hope of knowing my Lincoln. 


They wheeled me into the NICU and I hesitantly touched my baby's arm through a hole in an incubator. I didn't even want to touch him. That's how scared I was. I felt like I didn't even want to know him only to then lose him. 


Things continued to get worse for Lincoln overnight and Dr. Grim told us there was nothing more they could do for him at Hoag. He had to be transported to the Children's Hospital.


A team of eight people from CHOC brought him to my room to say goodbye. I couldn't be discharged from the hospital yet. So my baby was leaving without me. It was the worst moment of my life.


They gave me a small blanket to sleep with so that they could give it to Lincoln and he would know my smell. That blanket became my security very quickly. I felt like it was the only thing I could do for my son beside pray. 


I soon came out of the fog of the drugs and learned more about Lincoln's condition. Somehow I had passed on a bacterial infection to him while he was still in utero. All his little organs could not handle the infection and he was hooked up to every wire and tube known to man or woman.



But I will forever praise God, medicine, doctors and nurses because they all rushed in at exactly the right moment to save his life.

He was put on antibiotics for two weeks at CHOC. And he fought and thrived every single day he was there. I waited patiently to hold him again. I pumped my milk. I arranged for daily outings for Maya. I traded shifts at the hospital with Larry so we could be close to Lincoln as much as possible. Every moment was filled with hope and strength and love and energy. 

And then, finally, I had the best moment of my life.


He is my miracle.


It's hard for me to believe now, looking at my little tyrant, that two years ago he couldn't even breathe or eat on his own. 


Yet today, he is strong and he is vocal and he is filled with the life I gave him and God let him keep. 


Another day I will tell you about how I think he has a little bit of the devil in him too. 


But, for today, I'm just going to remember my blessings. 


And celebrate Lincoln Joaquin Ferchaw turning two years old!


Thanks for listening. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cooking - Lemon Crash Hot Potatoes and My Happy Place

It is I! I have returned! Huzzah! 


Hello? Anyone out there?


Bueller? Bueller?


No? That's ok. I'm not above talking to myself. 


But, in case anyone is out there, I have a recipe for you. And it involves potatoes. Shocked, are you not?


In the middle of my stressful weeks, I was lucky enough to take an actual vacation with my actual husband (and not the fake one I've conjured in my mind that doesn't actually exist in nature.) And, as it turns out, I kinda like my actual husband. Who knew?


We went wine tasting with two other parent-couples and stayed in a gorgeous house on an awesome vineyard. I took lots of pictures but, when I got home, I realized that they were mostly of the lounge chairs on the patio. I think about 48 of my 50 photos were of those chairs. 






I liked them.


Of course, the rest of the place was nice too.




And the wine was quite tasty.




Don't mind my eyes. I'm not possessed. I was just trying to "smile with my eyes" like Tyra Banks told me to on America's Next Top Model. In about 15 minutes though, my eyes will be mostly closed. 


I don't know the guy in the background. But he looks pretty cool. My friends are cooler, though.






Don't mind the new menacing man in the background. That's just Jen's husband, Jeff. He's harmless. Unless you mess with his Rock Band. Then you deserve whatever comes your way. 


Didn't I mention that he brought his PlayStation all the way to Los Olivos so the guys could rock out? No? I didn't make this up. I have proof.




In addition to Rock Band and wine tasting, we also tried olive oil tasting. Which brings me to my recipe for Lemon Crash Hot Potatoes.


It's a riff on Pioneer Woman's crash hot potatoes but with one distinct difference...




I'm in love. It's lemony and rich and smooth. I tasted it and I knew I must have it. And I knew it would be spectacular on my papas. 


So I boiled some baby Yukon golds...




Then drained them and smashed them on a cookie sheet...




Using a pastry brush, I brushed some of that glorious olive oil on the tops of the potatoes and added some herbs, salt and pepper. In this case, I used parsley and some freeze-dried dill that always works in a pinch.




Then I tossed in them in a 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes until they were crispy on top.




Oh yeah, I had some zucchini too so I added them to the cookie sheet and gave them the same olive oil and herb treatment. 


Paired it with my baked chicken breasts and Larry was a happy chickaterian. 





Don't have Meyer lemon olive oil? I guess you could Google it and figure out how to make it. Or take a drive up to Los Olivos and tell them that Michelle sent you. 


Though don't be surprised when they have no idea who you are talking about. They will after I've perfected my smiling eyes.